Higher education in China : inequality in access, college application behaviors and the effect of financial aid
In this dissertation, I investigate three barriers that students in China face when pursuing higher education: the unequal distribution of college enrollment quotas, the complexity of the college application process and financial constraints. These barriers exist worldwide, but the unique characteristics of the Chinese higher education system make China a valuable case study for extending our current understanding of the three topics. In China, enrollment quotas are determined and imposed on students by colleges and governments. The college application and admission process are centralized and complicated, which further create more constraints and uncertainty on students' college choices. Finally, as with other non-developed countries, students' financial needs are difficult to identify and address. In the first paper, I focus on provincial inequalities in higher education in China, which is related to how universities allocate enrollment quotas to provinces. Using national college admission data from 2005 to 2011, I investigate provincial disparities in college enrollments and the changes in the gaps over these years. Furthermore, from the perspective of the changing dynamics among the central government, local government and universities, I explore the reasons behind the changing distribution of admission quotas over the seven years. Results suggest that provincial disparities in the access to higher education did exist in China, but have decreased. Universities' reliance on local government and their preference for high achieving students can partially explain the regional differences. On average, universities allocate about two-thirds of their admission seats to their local province and allocate more seats to provinces from which they can recruit high achieving students. When universities' reliance on provincial funding decreases, universities decrease their preferences for local students and increase their preferences for high achieving students. In the second paper, I explore the differences in college admission and enrollment outcomes, as well as the application behaviors, between students with high and low socioeconomic status (SES). I also investigate how patterns in application behaviors, admission, and enrollment outcomes change at different levels of uncertainty, which is measured by whether students know their CEE score or not at the time of filling the application form. Results show that compared with high SES urban students, low SES rural students are less likely to be admitted by universities. Conditional on admission, low SES rural students get admission from and enroll in less selective colleges. These differences can be attributed to students' application behaviors: in the college application process, high SES students submit more applications and apply to colleges that they have a higher chance of gaining admissions. Furthermore, students' college admission and enrollment outcomes, as well as application behaviors differ by the risks they face at the time of submitting application forms. With high uncertainty (students fill application forms without knowing their CEE scores), high SES students do not differ significantly from low SES students in admission and enrollment outcomes, as well as the application behaviors. With lower uncertainty (students fill application forms after knowing their CEE scores), high SES urban students are more likely to get admission from and enroll in more selective universities, suggesting that low uncertainty benefits high SES urban students. In the third paper, I investigate the effects of providing financial aid on three student outcomes: (a) performance measured by their class rank; (b) plans to go to graduate school, and (c) expected monthly wages. Impacts of financial aid on the latter two outcomes are seldom explored in the higher education literature. In addition to studying the correlation between receiving financial aid and these three outcome variables, I adopt an instrumental variable approach to estimate the causal relationship between receiving financial aid and the outcome variables. Furthermore, I investigate the correlation between the amount of financial aid and the outcome variables. The results indicate that, while receiving any type of financial aid and the amount of financial aid significantly correlate with students' class rank, plans to go to graduate school, and expected monthly wages, a causal relationship only exists between receiving needs-based aid or loans and the expected monthly wages.
Type of resource|
electronic; electronic resource; remote|
1 online resource.|
Stanford University, Graduate School of Education.|
Adams, Jennifer (Jennifer H.)|
Adams, Jennifer (Jennifer H.)|
Statement of responsibility|
Submitted to the Graduate School of Education.|
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.|
© 2017 by Sen Zhou
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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